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Khaled Sharan: Chair of design

InsideOut chats to Khaled Sharan, co-founder of Lobby and designer of byKal, about underrated household design items, his favourite pieces of furniture and his love of horses as a design elements

  • The yellow chair
    The yellow chair alongside Khaled is called the New Wave Chair and the Barbie doll cushion is called Life in PImage Credit: Grace Paras/ANM
  • The yellow chair
    Blue Marlin Ibiza’s sheesha pool lounge.Image Credit: Grace Paras/ANM
  • The yellow chair
    Disco Ball Head constructed from a real motorcycle helmet and hand-placed glass.Image Credit: Grace Paras/ANM
  • The yellow chair
    The Mustard Whimsy chair is part of Blue Marlin Ibiza’s sheesha lounge. Image Credit: Grace Paras/ANM
  • The yellow chair
    A Kiss Me outdoor cushion. Image Credit: Grace Paras/ANM
  • The yellow chair
    The Bon a Petite chair is made with real cooking pots.Image Credit: Grace Paras/ANM
  • The yellow chair
    A horse sculpture for interior or outdoor use. Image Credit: Grace Paras/ANM
  • The yellow chair
    This silver skull was picked up on travels and is used as a prototype. Image Credit: Grace Paras/ANM

I have been obsessed with design… since I was very young but I never thought I would make a career out of it. As a child I designed several items and believed that everything I made in arts and crafts class deserved to be displayed at home.

One of my fondest memories… was coming home one afternoon when I was in high school to find a painting of mine framed and hung in the family’s formal dining area. This really encouraged me to pursue art and design.

It was also my interest in hotels and hospitality… that pushed me into actually becoming a designer. I decided to pursue a Masters Degree in Hospitality Management from one of Switzerland’s leading universities and my focus was in luxury management and design. The knowledge my degree provided plays a major role in helping me design hotels and restaurants.

Design is my way of… making a statement or expressing my emotions. I should, in reality, think of it as a practical, artistic solution for specific problems, but that sounds too boring when talking about a job that I love so much.

I am originally from… Jordan but I have lived in many countries including Kuwait, Canada, the US, Switzerland and now Dubai.

The design world in Jordan… has changed so much in the last ten years. The strong architectural character of Jordan’s buildings and houses remains relatively untouched while interior spaces have become more unique, featuring modern, daring design.

My favourite design item from my childhood home is… a silver horse sculpture that belongs to my parents. They still have it and to this day it puts a smile on my face. Horses are very prevalent in my work and I think I can attribute part of this love of the animal to the fact that I took up horse riding as a child.

My home in Dubai is… a modern loft with very high ceilings. It’s filled with pop-infused design items and, not surprisingly, a life-size horse sculpture that stands in the middle of my living room.

The first designer piece I ever bought was… a lamp by Philippe Starck.

My favourite piece of furniture… at home that was not designed by me is a small acrylic Cappallini chair that looks like crumpled paper. My favourite piece that I designed myself is the ‘Mad for Madonna’ turquoise chair which was one of the first pieces I ever designed and manufactured as part of the byKal range.

The most underrated household design item is… the dining chair. I have never understood why people use identical dining chairs in their homes. One ends up with ten or 12 of the same chair in one room when they could actually create really interesting conversation pieces during meals if they mixed them creatively.

My design process changes… depending on whether I am designing a project or a piece of furniture. It also depends on whether the furniture is being made for a specific client or not. I really enjoy designing pieces that haven’t been commissioned as that is when I am completely free from any external influences. Having said that, there is also a charm to working with clients’ ideas and I am happy to customise pieces.

I use all kinds of materials… in my work but to ensure the individuality of my items I always look for discontinued vintage materials or exotic skins. I love to use unusual materials, from faux grass to fur, although my customised prints are what I am most well known for.
Our region is home to some of the worlds most creative people… it’s just that most stop demonstrating creativity at college level because, in my opinion, it’s not cultivated as much as it should be. Design as a career is very underrated in our culture, yet some of today’s greatest designers are from the region, including people like Zaha Hadid, Karim Rashid and Momo.

There are some very talented young designers… in the region. I’m a fan of Zeena al Ahmad’s work as well as Dina Jildeh, both of whom are from Jordan.

byKal’s biggest project this year has been... the launch of Blue Marlin Ibiza, UAE. My team and I designed the entire project including all of the furniture. We also designed and made a special collection of cushions, exclusive to the venue, which people can buy there. We’re also working on a very exciting international nightlife brand due to open in Dubai in December.